Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Certain Areas' of Pennsylvania, Watch Out

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Certain Areas' of Pennsylvania, Watch Out

Article excerpt

Last week in Altoona, Donald Trump's tendency toward confirmation bias got the best of him. Looking out over a crowd that was overwhelmingly white and working-class, it was easy for him to hope that the mix of diehard supporters and curiosity seekers who had come to gawk were somehow demographically representative of the entire Pennsylvania electorate.

They weren't, of course, but minor facts like that don't matter to audiences predisposed to roll with the "mythic" facts and figurative language of the Trump campaign. The crowd was more than willing to accept Mr. Trump's premise that Pennsylvania is a state where his lead over Hillary Clinton is not debatable.

The unskewed, literal truth is that Mr. Trump is running behind Ms. Clinton in Pennsylvania and in every other battleground state. This kind of unvarnished, un-Trumpian truth is, of course, useless to a campaign trying to maintain its morale along with the illusion it can win. This is why Mr. Trump is constantly forced to reach for a deeper, more emotional truth that can ever be accounted for by mere pollsters. By conjuring a set of circumstances where he isn't a loser, he has to redraw the map.

Everyone remembers the quip by James Carville, the political brains behind the Bill Clinton campaign of 1992, that Pennsylvania is "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between." Mr. Trump takes it several steps further by insisting that Pennsylvania is Alabama, period. This bit of sleight of hand comes in handy if you're a desperate candidate attempting to generate doubt about the legitimacy of Ms. Clinton's likely victory in the state.

"We're going to watch Pennsylvania," he said. "Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don't come in and vote five times," he said without naming the certain areas. "If you do that, we're not going to lose. The only way we can lose, in my opinion - I really mean this, Pennsylvania - is if cheating goes on."

Perhaps suspecting that the vigilante nature of what he was asking his supporters to do sounded too far-fetched a chore on Election Day, he said this: "We have to call up law enforcement, and we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching," he said. "Because if we get cheated out of this election, if we get cheated out of a win in Pennsylvania, which is such a vital state, especially when I know what's happening here, folks. I know. She can't beat what's happening here," he said.

"The only way they can beat [me] in my opinion - and I mean this 100 percent - if in certain sections of the state, they cheat, OK? So I hope you people can sort of - not just vote on [Nov.] 8th - go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it's 100 percent fine," he said.

By now, we're all used to Mr. …

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